Allyson Felix cements herself as 200-meter dash favorite with record run
100-meter dash controversy? What 100-meter dash controversy? Allyson Felix put her dead heat with training partner Jeneba Tarmoh behind her with a smashing victory in the 200-meter dash Saturday, boosting her London gold medal hopes.
For just under 22 seconds, Allyson Felix was so good in the U.S. Olympic Trials' 200-meter dash you could forget she ever ran its 100-meter dash.
Felix turned what was supposed to be a knock-down-drag-out fight between the strongest field in the entire 2012 Trials into a first-round knockout, coming out of the curve with a stunning lead she only extended on her way to a personal-best 21.69--the fastest time in the world this year, a Trials record, the best women's 200 time since 1998. Carmelita Jeter took second, Sanya Richards-Ross third -- outstanding accomplishments for the pair of them, considering the former is regarded as more of a specialist in the 100 meters, the latter the 400 -- but even they seemed little more than buoys bobbing in Felix's wake Saturday.
Of course, that was only for those 21.69 seconds. As soon as they were done, the focus returned to the same question that's hung over Felix since the previous Saturday in Eugene: what's she going to do do in the 100?
But even with the 200 behind her, neither she nor dead-heat partner Jeneba Tarmoh was ready to say just yet. Their shared coach, Bobby Kersee, told the AP the three of them would reach a shared decision over breakfast Sunday. Kersse has been pushing for a Monday run-off while USA Track and Field had said the situation must be resolved by the end of Trials Sunday. But whatever the resolution, Felix didn't appear ready simply hand over the spot to Jarboh, as some had expected her to do if she qualified in the 200.
Despite that subtle assertion for a run-off, Felix must now be doubly ready to move past the 100 snafu. Not only has it surely been a distraction throughout her week of preparation for the 200 (despite both her's and Tarboh's claims they'd ignored it), but it would no doubt be nice to now take a moment -- if not too many moments -- to bask in her newfound status as the firm favorite to finally win her first individual Olympic gold medal. After the disappointment of silver in both Athens and Beijing, Felix now can rest in the confidence that if she runs in London the same race she ran Saturday, she'll almost certainly stand on top of the 200-meter podium.
Felix's form and the overall strength of the U.S. 200 team wasn't the only good news for U.S. Track and Field Saturday, either. Aries Merritt made good on the promise shown in winning this year's 60-meter indoor hurdles championship by running the fastest time this year in the 110-meter hurdles, a 12.93 that placed him just ahead of reigning world champion Jason Richardson's 12.98. China's Liu Xiang will clearly have something to say about it, but it wouldn't be a shock to see Merritt and Richardson finish 1-2 in London as well.
Four years ago the U.S. women played a clear second-fiddle to Jamaica. It was just a year ago that Richardson's title (earned in controversial circumstances) was the only World Championships gold on the track for the U.S. men. The dead heat between Felix and Tarmoh may be the story from Trials that's grabbed the most attention, but the biggest one is that thanks to the Trials performances of Felix and Merritt -- and Jeter and Richards-Ross and Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay and LaShawn Merritt and Galen Rupp and Bernard Lagat -- both those disappointments seem about a month and a half away from being put squarely in the rearview mirror.
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